'One part of me is sinking deeper into my roots, and the other is struggling to get away, to evoke a freer world in my writing. Writing about the Troubles and the landscape of home feels fraught with danger, but it is also a way of exerting myself.'
'If I’ve put in enough hours, if I’ve proved to the Muse that I am dedicated and loyal, there comes a time when she does arrive, unexpectedly and unannounced, in all her golden glory. And when this happens I don’t have time for inspirational quotes. '
'A comic squib about domestic angst developed its own agenda and finally clinched itself in a line, ‘For they are in the world, and you are not’. The tribute to my late partner which I had struggled for two years to write. It had written itself. Or had it? '
'I stopped to smoke a cigarette, talking aloud to myself in a near-fury that I had a commission waiting for me and no pitch to make, nothing to inspire the officer that she had done the right thing awarding money to a man who'd never written a play. '
'‘Inspiration’ implies some sort of divine intervention: the gift of a capricious god. I’m open to persuasion, but this seems unlikely and quite vague. Am sure these gods are too busy to be following us around, waiting for a moment to get involved.'
'Unplayable, my first novel for younger readers, was inspired by the need to write a bestseller as I teetered on the brink of bankruptcy back in 2008. I called a crisis meeting with a bottle of wine, and by the time I went to bed I had the plot. '
'When the time came for audience questions, the late, great Iain Banks got the inevitable one. Without pausing he said there was a secret website called www.ideasforwriters.com; ‘You just go there and it generates ideas for you’. '
'When I talk to RLF students or children in schools, I show them that scribble. I show them my notebook, full of crossings out. I do this to illustrate that inspiration for me often comes in snatches of thought; that a story doesn’t usually arrive fully formed. '
'My friend’s untimely death galvanised me: I went on an Arvon course, primed by the book she had told me to read, my head stuffed with the English Civil War. As I sat at Lumb Bank, I saw a man sailing away from England. He trailed destruction... '
'I love maps for their intrinsic beauty. I love them for helping me to know a little more. But I love them most of all because they are sources for my best daydreams, even now; as in my childhood, I still imagine the lives in these far-flung places. '